I have no idea if any of this is going to work out the way I talk about here because things continue to be in flux, but this is an interesting monologue about the needs of modern storytelling in the context of men developing strong, complex, believable female characters.
All my heroes are dead. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Steve Jobs and Prince. All. Dead.
But one person who is alive who I get a lot of creative courage from is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. That woman has creative ovaries of steel and so as this novel’s development begins to quicken in pace (at least for the time being) I ask myself, “What would Phoebe Waller-Bridge do? Would she go there? Yeah, of course she’d go there.”
So, whenever I come up with an issue I, myself, have about the scenario I’ve come up with, I now address it head on. I wallow in it. I say to the audience, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. But we’re going to talk about it so much that any worries you had about that possibility are eliminated.”
It’s wild how two things have really, really helped speed things up: establishment of a canon and pretty much totally flipping the script on some huge influences on this novel. A lot of problems have been fixed rather abruptly, so — for the time being –development is rushing full steam towards the end of the first act. I’m just letting my mind go down the rabbit hole of the most extreme possibilities to make a point about how fucked up the Trump Era is.
This helps the plot because it adds both drama and obstacles to the Hero and Heroine’s goals heading into towards the second act. A lot of avenues I had not really thought about have opened up and they’re organic to the concept and universe, so it’s really just a matter of free styling as I think up what would happen as part of the most obvious sequence of events.
The plot, characters and universe are getting far, far better because of this so, at a minimum, I feel cautiously optimistic that I won’t — at the very least– embarrassment myself.
Editor’s Note: I really am writing a novel. And I generally do writing like this when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and need to release some stress. So, please, don’t get spooked by this post because I mention Alexa Chung’s name, for fuck’s sake. I’m extremely harmless. Leave me alone and let me work on my novel in peace.
The more serious I become with this novel, the less I care about anything but producing the best tale I can. I don’t care about any possible eventual interest by Hollywood (ha!), I don’t care about preening on Twitter about how many words I may have written. I just care about pushing myself to my creative limits.
One thing is for sure — I have a lot of difficulty taking myself too seriously. It’s just not in my nature not to giggle when a “normal’ person with an actual traditional career sniffs that I’m too big a loser to help in any shape, form or fashion. I’m thinking, of course, of Jodi Kantor’s recent polite but clipped 1 line email response to me. I didn’t want much of her time — maybe five minutes at the most — but she made it very, very clear that I was a complete waste of ANY of her time and good day to you good sir.
Generally, anything idea for the novel that makes me laugh — even if it’s actually rather dark or serious — I put in. So, I’ve decided to study Ms. Kantor as best I can so I can, at least in terms of her career and public persona — reproduce those two things in my female romantic lead. So, in a sense, while in real life I can’t even get her to help me in any way, in my fevered novel’s phantasm, she’s going to fall in love with the proxy-me Hero. Haha! Ms. Kantor is rather intense, to say the least. But any inspiration she’s giving me for the character I have in mind is simply how someone like her thinks about the world. I’m not really using her appearance or personal life — just her professional life and maybe her demeanor.
This novel is completely for me at this point. I’m throwing my heart, soul and nearly complete personal history into it. I know a little bit about a whole lot of things — my knowledge base is extremely wide but rather shallow. I can have a cocktail party conversation with virtually anyone about virtually anything. Or, at least, I like to think so.
Anyway, I don’t know. I’m putting as much work as I can into this novel. Only time will tell if anyone else cares.
I walk out of movies a lot now that I have been seriously developing and writing a novel. But I saw Knives Out last night and loved it. In fact, the third act was a real “ah-ha” moment for me in regards to the novel I’m writing. I spent the entire drive home talking to myself about the “big black void” that you want to hide from the reader for as long as possible after it happens.
In other words, I now know the exact sequence of events that pretty much the basis of the whole novel’s plot. Now that I know that, I can spend a lot of time dropping clues to the reader leading up to that event and then spend the rest of the novel slowly explaining to them what happened. It’s a major step forward in the plot. Though I have to admit the novel is going to be a lot more Knives Out and a lot less Gone Girl for no other reason than I simply am not as twisted and dark as Gillian Flynn is. I’m just too nice. But I still have a time to make things darker than I am naturally inclined to do, I guess.
One thing is clear — this novel is going to fast paced and very easy to film if it ever became that popular. I’m a visual person and love movies and it’s just difficult for me not to essentially write a novel that’s very cinematic in nature from the ground up. In that sense, I am very much like Michael Crichton in the sense that I think he wrote his novel’s with the assumption they would be filmed.
On a side note, I really, really like Daniel Craig. He’s the gold standard for who I imagine my Hero being in my mind. But there are a lot of problems with that relative to who the character is. My Hero is too much like me in ( some respects) for there to be a 1-to-1 correlation. But I am trying to make my female romantic lead a lot like a combination of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Alexa Chung. Sorta. She’s definitely sort of in that spectrum of brunette British woman.
But anyway, I still have a huge amount of work to do. But I am definitely pushing myself to my creative limits in development, if nothing else. This novel is becoming more and more a reflection of my own personal history and personality.
I saw Zoey Deutch in Zombieland 2 the other day and was really impressed with her acting chops. A star is born, if you will. But let’s speculate on her possible career track.
The person she current most resembles is Isla Fisher. Fisher stole every scene she was in when she appeared in The Wedding Crashers and that pretty much has been the basis of her career to date. But, really, Fisher hasn’t done much since that movie. She’s appeared in the occasional romcom now and then, but she’s apparently been more busy being Mrs. Sacha Baron Cohen than having any serious movie career. So, in a sense, that’s definitely a possibly for Deutch. She could land her a powerful Hollywood man, pop out some kids and otherwise coast.
I’d like to think she might aim higher. In fact, to cement her career, I would recommend a Wedding Crashers type movie. That would be ideal for Deutch. Something a bit raunchy that would give take her to the next level. Ideally, she would befriend Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the two would do a film together with Waller-Bridge writing the screenplay. While I know the more “woke” amongst us poo-poo the manic pixie dream girl trope, if Deutch could wease her way into the next Charlie Kaufman joint, she could really light the screen on fire. I think they’re talk of a new Back To The Future movie, maybe she could shoe-horn herself into that movie given her mother’s connection to the franchise. Or maybe Ghostbusters 3?
Anyway, if she REALLY wanted to aim high, she might look for a YA franchise in development to helm. She might go the Jennifer Lawrence route if she managed to pull that off. Hollywood can be so dumb when casting talented young actresses. Too often they want to them to simply be one-dimensional romantic support for some young up-and-coming actor, or even worse, the love interest for some dusty old dude. I guess a lot what happens next with her career depends on luck and her agent.
Who knows. We’ll probably be a fascist dystopia before too long, anyway.
And the perfect person to helm this franchise is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She’s perfect. She could really bring something unique to the role. It could be a very modern female-driven franchise if you got the right people behind it.
I am hurtling towards the novel’s midpoint. Once I get to the midpoint, the tempo of the novel speeds up considerably. I’m now on the cusp of writing a really important scene because it introduces a risky — but necessary — aspect to the plot.
It’s risky in a Phoebe Waller-Bridge type of way. I’m going to challenge the audience not to accept the orthodoxy on an very, very touchy subject. But the novel is meant to encompass the entirety of the clusterfuck that is the Trump Era so I feel my hand is forced. The great thing about the conceit of the novel is it lends itself to being my own Apocalypse Now. I have the opportunity to talk about a wide swath of the Trump Era in a fast paced, fun manner.
But by definition there’s also a good chance I’m going to piss a whole lot of people off. But just like Waller-Bridge, I’m not going to choke. I’m not going to blink. I’m going to wade into a situation where the media narrative is there is a right and true way. The great irony of it all is, of course, is I’m very empathetic to the conventional wisdom on the matter. It just fits the novel’s narrative to flip the script a little bit. Yes, I’m being intentionally vague.
The scene I’m about to write is so important I may wait until tomorrow morning to actually sit down and write it. I may write and re-write my longhand beat structure of the scene to really prep myself for writing it.
Anyway, the novel’s first draft is going to be a huge mess. But I’ve finally given myself the right to write shit. You can’t edit a blank page as they say. I just have to finish the first draft so I can turn around and do it all over again after I read it and annotate it for the purposes of revision.